News in South Africa 4th January:
1. Government aims for herd immunity:
At least 67% of South Africans will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to ensure herd immunity, health minister Zweli Mkhize has announced during a public briefing.
On Sunday, Mkhize unveiled the government’s strategy to secure vaccines and roll them out to two-thirds of South Africa’s 57 million citizens, saying the government was currently in discussions with several manufacturers.
The vaccine is expected to be rolled out in three phases, with the 1.25 million healthcare workers in the country having first access.
A second phase will see essential workers – such as miners, teachers and police officers – and those living in congregate settings, such as care centres and prisons, offered the vaccine. The second phase, which will require roughly 16 million vaccines, will also include those over 60 and those with comorbidities.
The third phase will see vaccines being made available to an additional 40 million citizens.
Mkhize added the Covax agreement would see enough vaccines to cover 10% of the population delivered by the second quarter of 2021, but enough vaccines to cover the remaining 57% of the population would have to be sourced through bilateral agreements.
2. Matric exam marking begins:
The matric script marking process is expected to begin on Monday.
Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, released new guidelines for officials involved in the process. More than 45,000 markers have been appointed to assess millions of written papers.
The new regulations will follow all alert Level 3 guidelines. Strict screening procedures will also be done at all 180 marking centres.
Investigations into the leaked matric maths and science papers are ongoing.
Quality assurer Umalusi is set to make a declaration on the fairness of the exams on 15 February, which would then be followed by the results being released on 22 February.
3. Almost 3000 fines issued in WC:
Since New Year’s Eve on Thursday, police in the Western Cape have issued 2,915 fines for the contravention of the Disaster Management Act regulations.
Police said the majority of the transgressions (2,185) were for failure to adhere to the 9pm – 6am curfew.
Twenty-nine illegal shebeens were closed down with 32 arrests for the sale, dispensing and distributing liquor. A total of 11,000 litres of alcohol were confiscated during the weekend operation. Thirteen firearms and 100 rounds of ammunition were also confiscated.
Across the province’s beaches, police were also deployed to ensure adherence to level 3 restrictions. While most beaches were deserted, there were a few transgressors.
During compliance inspections on beaches in the Overberg on Friday police removed and fined 15 persons from three beaches in Pringle Bay, Onrus and Castle Beach. Fines to the value of R15,000 were issued.
4. Alcohol ban a success:
Health officials are declaring the alcohol ban under lockdown level 3 a victory, with hospitals seeing fewer trauma cases, and some – such as Baragwanath – making history with no alcohol-related trauma cases on New Year’s Day.
Government officials have also promised to go after those who are still flouting the ban, particularly informal traders and those transporting alcohol from place to place.
The KwaZulu-Natal government has issued a stern warning to “take it or leave it” liquor merchants and illicit traders who continue to sell alcohol despite the lockdown ban on sales.
“We also want to issue a warning to both established liquor outlets as well as individuals who are selling liquor illegally, the so-called ‘take it or leave it’ merchants, that we will come for them, because they are enemies of our progress,” said premier Sihle Zikalala.
The premier, speaking on Sunday, described those who sold alcohol despite the ban as “unscrupulous enemies of people’s good health”.
Zikalala lauded citizens of KwaZulu-Natal for largely complying with the regulations but noted there were still pockets of people who remained non-compliant.
He said this had led to 729 arrests across the province between December 29 and January 1.
- At least 246 of these people were arrested for failing to confine themselves to their residences during the curfew hours.
- And 66 people were arrested for transporting, selling or consuming alcohol in a public space; and
- 392 were arrested for not wearing a face mask in public spaces.
5. 2021 a slow start for businesses:
The year-end festive holiday is inclined to be a quiet time of the year for corporates; there’s generally little sign of any deals being contemplated or finalised. And while the year-end lull hasn’t stopped some major deals being announced in the past, this year it seems Covid and the accompanying lockdown has ensured things are eerily quiet.
Dismay for Brait and Hospitality Property Fund shareholders, and a renewed threat of derivative action against some Eastplats directors – but a strengthened source of non-southern African revenue for Spar Group.
According to reports in the UK’s Financial Times last week, the UK arm of Virgin Active has warned of doubts over its ability to continue as a going concern after government lockdowns forced the closure of its gyms.
Shareholders of Hospitality Property Fund won’t have taken too much comfort from Tsogo Sun’s decision to extend the closing of its general offer from January 15 to January 29.
Spar Group is set to hand over another €44.1 million (around R785 million) to buy out the remaining 10% of Ireland-based BWG Group that it doesn’t already own.
Eastern Platinum shareholder Xiaoling Ren certainly doesn’t give up easily. Having been thwarted by both the British Columbian Supreme Court and Appeal Court in her bid to commence a derivative action against some of the Eastplats directors, Ren has once again approached the Supreme Court for leave to commence the action.
Perhaps like so many of us, she’s hoping 2021 will bring improved fortunes.